Day: October 21, 2008

Lorne Michaels talks SNL’s big buzz, Sarah Palin and lyrics to the Sarah Palin Rap

No question that Saturday Night Live has been on a roll this fall, with increased ratings, buzz and nationwide attention, mostly thanks to the presidential campaign but also a little bit to how SNL bounced back from the writers strike. Last weekend’s show, which featured Republican VP candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and a few other celebrity cameos, garnered its highest ratings since 1994. Even after midnight on a Saturday, SNL was the week’s third-watched TV program, trailing only that week’s episodes of Dancing with the Stars and CSI for viewership. Entertainment Weekly has posted a new Q&A with SNL’s creator and executive producer, Lorne Michaels. Here’s an excerpt: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why weren’t Palin and Fey ever on screen together?LORNE MICHAELS: Any dialogue would’ve been a letdown. That’s not to say that if they talked as themselves it would’ve been a letdown. When someone’s doing somebody’s voice exactly, it’s an impression. So their talking wouldn’t have had the same power as them passing each other by. I thought it was the most powerful way [to do the opening skit]. Did they interact at all behind the scenes?They talked. You’d have to ask them how it went. There was no kicking and screaming. We know how to behave. Any other planned candidate appearances before the election?Yes, but again, until they’re in the building I’m not going to talk about it....

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The interview: Marc Maron

You think the cell-phone reception is bad where you are. Try getting coverage in the desert landscape of northern Arizona. That’s where Marc Maron was when we talked last Thursday, en route from Sedona, Ariz., where Maron had watched the final presidential debate hoping to engage with folks in the heart of McCain Country, toward Albuquerque. He’s part of a crew from The Guardian newspaper in the U.K., getting the pulse of the American electorate in the final three weeks before Election Day. He’ll also be at Comix in New York City this weekend. "Everything’s pretty good, man. The road trip has been good in a lot of ways, like I needed to get out. I just moved back to New York City from Los Angeles, everything has been up in the air, and the past couple of years for me personally have been miserable. So nothing is better than running away!" Maron tells me. "If given the opportunity, it’s always fun to run." It’s not as if the satirical stand-up comedian hasn’t criss-crossed the country before, either for road work or with friends. But this time feels very different. "It’s interesting to do it for a reason," he says. "We’re interviewing people. Shooting video. And right now we’re checking out the meteor crater. I’ve never seen my producer get so excited for something. I guess it’s interesting to...

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Manoj: Confronting comedy stereotypes

The proverbial "they" always tell new comedians to embrace the things that make them unique but also relate to the audience. If you’re overweight, joke about that right away. If you have a different ethnic background, address it! That’s what they say, anyhow. I don’t even know who they are. In "Manoj," a short film by stand-up comedian Hari Kondabolu that screened at this summer’s Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, Kondabolu visits an alternate universe where a comedian named Manoj is getting all of the laughs by "Indianing it up." It makes a statement not only about what Kondabolu must be thinking from time to time about his own comedy, but also about how and why the industry rewards whom it does. Worth watching. Live footage shot at the Comedy Underground in Seattle, with roles for the club’s longtime ass. man. Carl Warmenhoven and comedian David Cope. Enjoy. Note: Some language is NSFW. MANOJ from Zia Mohajerjasbi on...

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Open call for New York’s Funniest Stand-Up 2008

For the second consecutive year, Carolines and the New York Comedy Festival will stage a contest to determine the city’s funniest stand-up comedian. What you need to know? The open call for New York’s Funniest Stand-Up runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Wednesday (Oct. 21-22) at Carolines, 1626 Broadway, New York, NY. You’ll get two minutes to perform cold for the judges. Based on originality, stage presence and material, 30 stand-ups will get picked for the semifinals (Oct. 28-29 at Stand-Up NY) and perform five minutes each for a live audience. Five will advance from each semi, making 10 finalists, performing eight minutes each in the finals Nov. 5 at Carolines for celebrity and industry judges. The winner gets cash, a week at Carolines and a guest slot at one of the festival’s main shows. What you really need to know? Last year, most of the semifinalists picked did not stand in line for hours in the open call, but instead had prearranged audition times (as is the case for NBC’s Last Comic Standing auditions). Furthermore, if you want to know if you stand a chance of winning, please consider the 2007 results: Wil Sylvince won the title, $2,500 and opening slot for Artie Lange (though he already had a festival gig opening for Damon Wayans). The other finalists were Julian McCullough, Joey Gay, Joe DeRosa,...

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New York Times columnist tries stand-up

A few folks have pointed my way toward this weekend’s Executive Pursuits column in the New York Times, in which Harry Hurt III writes about attempting stand-up comedy for the first time at the Comic Strip Live. What should I say about this? It seems as though the NYT inevitably has one of its own write about performing every few years (does it coincide with section editors, I wonder?), and invariably (am I using that word and inevitably in their proper places? please do not waste time discussing) the reporter throws around a dozen cliches, half-truths and stereotypes about the world of stand-up comedy and learns something about himself or herself in the process of performing and telling jokes to strangers. That said, Hurt’s column is slightly different because his column is all about him taking a turn at someone else’s job, which is a great gig, if executed with proper and thorough research and an understanding of the jobs in question. And yet, that said, his column on stand-up sounds a lot like a lot of rookie open mikers. They are fans of comedy. They have an idol. They have an idle thought about what it’ll be like. And they go onstage without really thinking about knowing what they’re doing. Try that at another career, why don’t you? Then again, please don’t. But wannabe comedians seem to throw...

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